Saturday, February 2, 2013

This Week in Books (and Life)

Hey everyone!

So it's been a big week in life and in books. I broke up with alcohol and started seeing smoothies and hibiscus tea. Call it a late start on New Years resolutions, it just seemed like a good idea, and I'm glad I came to that decision. I'm also trying to cut back on gluten where I can, and sprinkling cayenne on everything. Where it is all going, we shall see. Next, back to the gym so that I stop spending money on something I don't use.

I also met my cousin Mandy for the first time in almost 18 years. She came down from Nova Scotia to visit her parents (my aunt and uncle, of course, who have become snow birds in the last two years) this week, and came to visit us. It was awesome getting to see her, just as it is whenever we get to see family we haven't seen in years. When we moved to Florida in '95, leaving it all and everyone behind felt like cutting off a limb. But with our family slowly finding their way down to our neck of the woods, and their families following, even just for a visit, and the growth of social media and technology, that limb is slowly being reattached, stitch by stitch. And it feels nice to have that mobility back.

Now, to the books!

1) Happy Birthday Pride and Prejudice!!! This is one of my all time favorite books, and it astonishes me that it has been 200 years since its publication! Jane Austen sometimes gets a bad rep for being overly sentimental, but she paved the way for some of the greatest female writers of our time and for realistic women's fiction as a whole. And she gave all men an unrealistic standard they will never live up to. Let's face it, we all want a Mr. Darcy or a Mr. Knightley. It's just a fact, right, ladies?

No matter which version you favor, (Matthew Macfadyen, PLEASE!!) Pride and Prejudice is a standard bearer of romance and women's fiction. And, I'm sorry if you're a Bronte fan, but the Bronte sisters will never match Austen's storytelling capability or the caliber of her characters.

And as a birthday recommendation, read Tracy Kiely's Murder Most Austen. It's a great mystery centered around a murder of a notorious Austen professor at the Jane Austen festival in Bath, U.K. Great story, compelling characters, and perfect for Janeites. It even features a ball where all the attendants have to wear regency style costumes (about 90% of the guests dress as Elizabeth and Darcy: Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle edition). Also: Austenland by Shannon Hale

2) Hilary Mantel is certainly making a name for herself. Last week, I reported that the Royal Shakespeare Company was adapting Mantel's Tudor novels Wolf Hall  and  Bring Up the Bodies into a two part stage production for their 2013 season. Now, Mantel has more to celebrate. Both novels have won the Man Booker Award, but it was announced this week that Bring Up the Bodies has also won the Costa Award, making BUtB 2 for 3 so far in the U.K.'s triple crown of literary awards. The third,the Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange) is still up for grabs and won't be announced until later this spring. Will BUtB sweep this award's season? We shall see, but if Henry has anything to say about it...
...the other books don't stand a chance. And may come away a head shorter.

Other awards announced this week were the Caldicott, Newberry and Printz awards. 
Caldicott: This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Newberry: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Printz: In Darkness by Nick Lake
Other award winners can be found here: Children's and Young Adult Book Award Winners

3) Jerry B. Jenkins, the popular Christian fiction author and coauthor (alongside Tim LaHaye) of the Left Behind series, is launching his own self-publishing company called Christian Writers Guild Publishing; Jenkins acquired ownership of the guild in 2001. The new company will play mentor to new Christian writers on their path to self-publishing.

4) Kate Winslet has signed on to a role in the film adaptation of Veronica Roth's Divergent, which will star Secret Life of the American Teenager actress Shailene Woodley. The film is set to be released to theaters on March 21, 2014. No sign yet of who may play the hunky, angst-ridden leading male.

5) Barnes and Noble announced this week that it will begin closing some of it's brick and mortar stores, up to a third in the next decade (about 20 stores a year). They expect to leave open about 450 to 500 stores and assert they are still full committed to good, old-fashioned retail.

6) If you haven't read it yet, bestselling author Justin Cronin (The Passage and The Twelve) published an incredible op-ed in the New York Times this week on what it's like to be a gun-owning liberal. He explains what ultimately led him to his decision to own a gun and why he still approves of gun control legislation. It is a great example of how one can be both pro-gun rights and pro-gun reform. I admire this man so much more after this article. Confessions of a Liberal Gun Owner I'm also looking forward to reading Stephen King's "Guns," an essay about gun violence in the United States and possible solutions, which was released last week on January 25 (only available on Kindle).

That's all for this week. Will have another book review up shortly. Enjoy your weekend. Have a drink for me!

*Update: It's February, so for our new segment, Featured Coffee of the Month, try a raspberry white mocha latte. Raspberry and white chocolate come together in a delicious concoction that will make you fall in love over and over again! Not a raspberry fan? It's also good in strawberry.

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